Bangladesh, as an economically vulnerable small country, cannot afford going against Western sanctions amid the Ukraine war, to purchase potassium fertilisers from Russia and Belarus, according to Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque at a seminar on Sunday.
"That is why we now have to buy fertiliser worth $300 for $1,200 from Canada," he said at a seminar on "Agriculture and Media in Food Security in the Global Situation" organised by the Agriculture Information Service at the KIB Convention Hall in the city's Farmgate.
"India is a large country, economically strong. Literally, it does not care about such things. It is importing oil and potassium from Russia and Belarus. But small countries like ours, economically vulnerable countries are not able to cope with the sanctions to buy fertilisers," he added.
Referring to the extra price of fertilisers, Abdur Razzaque said the food crisis was there due to the conflict. Ukrainian farmers cannot go to the fields at this time in that country where a lot of various crops are grown.
Its negative impact will be felt most in October and November. We understand how food prices will rise in the world and they have already risen slightly," he added.
He said wheat prices are unusually high. Due to the increase in the price of wheat, people are leaning towards eating rice instead of wheat. As a result, rice prices are also rising.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said food security is definitely a very important global issue.
"Recently, we have seen that food crises happen due to various reasons and particularly people in poor countries suffer a lot. They face a food crisis and famine," he said.
"Due to food crises, wars erupt in different places and food crises are also created by wars. Foods as weapons are much deadlier than traditional weapons and many use it as a weapon of war," he added.
The agriculture minister said that recently the US government and the US State Department have set a new policy. They say food security is not only about the deficit of food, but also about national security.
Agricultural Economist MA Sattar Mandal offered some suggestions for tackling the global crisis.
"Right now we have to increase rice production. In order to increase the production of wheat, alongside planting smart varieties, char and saline areas should be utilised," he said.
He also advised increasing the production of oilseeds as an alternative to imports.
Planting Aman to be difficult if floods continue
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque says that if the floods intensify in different parts of the country such as Sylhet and Sunamganj, and if it is prolonged, the planting of paddy in the Aman season will be at risk.
He noted that the floods had already damaged 22,000 hectares of Aus rice.
The agriculture minister said some Aman seedbeds will be damaged. However, since the seedbeds have not quite been prepared yet, so the fear of loss is less. But if the floods spread and are prolonged, Aman cultivation will be at risk.
"We have targeted 13 lakh hectares of land for Aus cultivation, where paddy planting has been completed on 11 lakh hectares of land. Of that, 22,000 hectares have been damaged so far," he said.
"There are 3.87 lakh hectares of different vegetables all over the country. Here also, 5,000-7,000 hectares have been damaged. The way the rains and floods are continuing, I don't know what will happen," he added.
However, he said there is adequate seed storage, provided the floods recede rapidly.